I've been avoiding Club Flesh, having had a bad time there once before. Still, I always used to say I'd try anything twice so it was long overdue a return visit, to see if my first impression had been an unlucky one-off. Over the last year several friends had told me that they'd had some good nights there, so as part of my current policy of going out every weekend (until I run out of money or drop dead of exhaustion!), I headed up to London to check out their 3rd birthday party event last Saturday night. I wasn't impressed. I wouldn't say it was completely terrible this time, but I would definitely say it was still a waste of money...
What was bad about it? Well... let's not do that bit first - it wasn't all bad, and I think it's worth looking at the good things about Club Flesh first. It has a lot of potential, and I think it's a shame that (for me at least) that potential isn't coming through on the night...
So, what was good about it? The people were (mostly) a good crowd - friendly, some fantastic outfits, some good scenes going on in the dungeon area, some really enthusiastic dancing on the dance floor at the end of the night. Lots of chatting going on in the quieter areas of the club, and lots of smiles towards the end of the night.
A particular mention goes to the couple from Cambridge who had definitely made the most effort to dress for the sci-fi theme of the evening - him as Darth Maul and her as a Twi'lek dancing girl (image here if you don't recall the character). Excellent outfits, both of you - bet the guy was hot though! Hope the bodypaint washed off without too much damage to your bathroom
The dungeon seemed well laid out, with just enough items of furniture in there for people to play without it being impossible to get past them, although you do have to make sure to leave appropriate room for the backswing on whips - I saw a few people walk straight into those, even when other people were trying to keep the scene area clear. If someone asks you to stop a second in a dungeon area, it's worth looking around a bit to see why, I think... although if you're so blase that you don't notice a cute girl being tied up and whipped in front of you, perhaps a polite request isn't going to make it through to you either!
Speaking of respect for scenes, Club Flesh does seem to attract a higher percentage of ill-mannered people than the larger TG events. By ill-mannered, I mean the kind of person... well, okay, they're inevitably male, almost always middle-aged or older, usually overweight and underdressed, and often not especially attractive - you all know who I mean. The kind of guy who thinks that an ongoing sexual scene in a public area is an open invite for him to either (a) grope the woman involved, or (b) stand as close as possible and masturbate in her direction. I saw at least four scenes get broken up by this behaviour - it's really not clever. Even one girl who seemed to be enjoying a fairly large group of guys soon changed her mind when this crowd latched onto her little party.
I don't think there's anything to be done about these people - unless the mostly unspoken etiquette in place at fetish clubs (ask before you touch, etc) is made a hard and fast rule, to the extent of them getting thrown out if a dungeon monitor notices their behaviour.
I'd be interested to hear people's opinions on what they think should be done in this respect. How is a DM supposed to draw the line between allowable behaviour and bad behaviour - and what should they do once they've spotted it? Anyway, annoying though these idiots are, they weren't what made the evening a waste of money for me...
So, what was wrong? The music.
It sounds simple, maybe even petty, but that's it. There were only two things really dramatically wrong with Club Flesh the first time I went - they combined to completely ruin the night out for me and my friends, but to count them it was just two things; the meal, and the music. As Torture Garden finally gave up on the restaurant idea a while back (I guess it never did reach the standards of quality that TG like to aim for) that only left the music to worry me... and it went bad, exactly the same way as last time - nothing I could really enjoy dancing to until so late in the night that my enthusiasm had already gone home to bed.
When I got there (after midnight), the music was fairly dull, but it took me a while to notice in the general 'just happy to have made it' feeling I have whenever I finally manage to find a club in London. It was only after I'd changed and walked around a few times that I started to notice that the dancefloor wasn't pulling me toward it at all in the way that it usually does at TG. Instead of the usual stomping hard house selection, it seemed to be some kind of 'funky' dance music (I don't really know what it should be called, that's the best description I can manage). It wasn't quite fast enough, and it was trying to be clever instead of just driving people along. The dancefloor was looking pretty empty, so it can't have just been me that wasn't impressed with the selection.
I checked out the set list for the DJs and noticed that there was a guest DJ on from midnight to 1:30, so I figured that when Allen came on at 1:30 things would liven up. Until then I resigned myself to wandering around and trying to find something else to do. I managed to watch a few interesting bits of play in the dungeon area before the above mentioned idiots broke them up by crowding, and I also managed to meet and chat to fuschia from LondonFetishScene.com - we've chatted online a few times so it was cool to finally say 'hi' face to face.
Eventually, on yet another lap of the venue, I started to notice people slumped against the walls in the dungeon and the chill-out areas, apparently taking a nap of all things... this made me realise how tired I was myself, so I checked the time, and found it was 3am exactly. I went back to the dancefloor area, and found the music exactly the same... 'clever', or 'crap', depending on your frame of mind (guess which word I'd pick). It probably would have been great to have in the background while chatting to friends at home... it definitely wasn't my idea of a TG dancefloor set.
Just as I was thinking this, and basically calling the night a washout and trying to decide whether to go home now, or leave it another half hour, I heard a bit of a rough mix take place. The reason it was a bit rough, or at least very obvious, was because it was a complete change of styles - from the 'clever' stuff, to the stuff I'd been waiting for for about three hours - club music - dance music - TG music!
10 minutes later, the dancefloor was packed, people were smiling and bouncing around the place, and I was starting to feel like I might be having a good night out after all! I eventually left at 4:30, when the adrenalin rush from the good music lost out to the tired apathy that had dogged me up until 3am, and I had to head home for bed. What a tragedy that things didn't go to the set-list, and I could have had 3 hours of fun instead of only 1 For that matter, if the good music had started at half past one, I would probably have still been bouncing around like a happy lunatic when the event finished at 5am - it was the waiting that wore me down before the danceable set ever started...
Whoever was on last (or until I left anyway), you're a blinding DJ, and thankyou! But whoever was on before you wasn't. Very much wasn't. Just my personal opinion obviously, but I suspect numbers on the dancefloor might make for fairly good confirmation of it? The contrast with the music at the Colosseum event was painful - that rolled straight through a whole night of top quality dance music... this rolled through most of a night of tedium, with a burst of energy almost too late to rescue my mood at the end of it all.
So, I left tired and grumpy, somewhat happy because at least things had picked up at the end and it hadn't been a total disaster, but also irritated because such a simple thing had totally trashed the majority of the evening. Essentially I feel like I paid £12 for about two hours of having a good time, and those while I was feeling really tired. I don't understand how someone who DJs as well as Allen from TG (I'm presuming his was the last set) can pick a guest DJ so badly suited to the event - unless it's just me, and I was the only one who couldn't wait for that set to finish - but like I said, the change on the dancefloor from just before 3am to just after it was way beyond noticable - there must have been at least four times as many people on there once the good tracks started, not to mention the people dancing all around the dancefloor because there wasn't any more room on it!
Anyway, my short summary for this one is that it'll be a long time (again) before I go to Club Flesh again. Mass is the same or close in pricing (and so is the new set of possible future events at the Colosseum) and I've not had a bad time there yet. Maybe I've just been unlucky with the two Club Flesh events I've attended, but it's been bloody depressing, a waste of quite a bit of money and a lot of time and energy, and I'm not inclined to try again until the memory fades a bit.
I am planning to be at Mass on the 26th - here's hoping for a great night out there, the kind we all know TG can do, but for some reason don't quite manage at Cynthias... or at least, not that I've seen.